I never was much of a tweeter until earlier this year, when another columnist accused me of taking my marching orders from the Prime Minister’s Office. The attacks were in the Twittersphere, so I decided to fight fire with fire. Like everyone, I am anxiously awaiting the Monday’s election outcome. And on Monday evening, I am taking a break from that vicious medium, Twitter.
By Sheila Copps
First published in The Hill Times on October 21, 2019.
OTTAWA—Goodbye Twitter! I can’t wait until this election is over.
Like everyone, I am anxiously awaiting the outcome. And on Monday evening, I am taking a break from that vicious medium.
I never was much of a tweeter until earlier this year, when another columnist accused me of taking my marching orders from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The attacks were in the Twittersphere, so I decided to fight fire with fire.
For weeks, the word war was abuzz with contradictory stories of SNC-Lavalin and former attorney general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. My question at the time, still unanswered, was “why does Wilson-Raybould want to deliver the election to Andrew Scheer?”
The Twitter response was brutal. I was deemed anti-women and anti-aboriginal. I was so discouraged at the vitriol emanating from that universe that I vowed to get out.
But a friend made me promise to hang in there until the election was over.
She believed that social media interventions would play a major role in the election outcome.
At her request, I agreed to stay active on Twitter until Oct. 21. It has been a debilitating and exhausting experience. It is impossible to influence anonymous participants who are so filled with hate.
I am a great believer that negativity breeds negativity. To be happy in life, you should surround yourself with positivity.
That isn’t possible on Twitter. I found myself getting more and more negative by the day. But people should vote on the positive program of a government.
Trudeau has made more than his share of mistakes. But as for his agenda, never in the history of the country has a prime minister embraced Indigenous reconciliation so wholeheartedly. Never has a prime minister taken the issue of climate change to heart, and developed a real plan to turn the situation around. Never has a prime minister aggressively tackled poverty and embraced minority sexual communities.
Trudeau’s vision is exemplary. He definitely deserves the second term that former U.S. president Barack Obama recommended.
Obama’s words speak for themselves. “I was proud to work with Justin Trudeau as president. He’s a hard-working, effective leader who takes on big issues like climate change. The world needs his progressive leadership now, and I hope our neighbours to the North support him for another term.”
With that endorsement from such a respected world leader, Trudeau should be rewarded with re-election. Maybe the experience of the last four years will also strengthen his backbone.
One of his biggest mistakes was not dealing with the poison festering in his own cabinet.
Trudeau’s patience with two cabinet ministers who were attacking him publicly was, without a doubt, a reflection of his commitment to do politics differently.
On the surface, that vision inspired a whole generation of political agnostics to get involved.
But in the end, Trudeau learned what every prime minister has known since the beginning of Canada. There is only one way to do politics.
Governments need to lead, and if that means being tough from time to time, so be it.
The Liberals naively set up a committee to review the voting system, with the New Democrats in the chair.
But the failure to deliver on that voting promise is Trudeau’s and Trudeau’s alone.
He cannot waste precious election time explaining why there was no consensus in a Parliament where the Conservatives sought a referendum, and the New Democrats insisted on consideration of only one option, that of proportional representation.
Had a member of the government with political experience led the discussion, the voting system could have been changed.
Trudeau recruited fresh faces, including Canada’s first aboriginal attorney general. Wilson-Raybould had only three years experience working as a prosecutor.
He also named other newbies, talented people with incredible backgrounds, but zero political experience.
One of those was the minister responsible for delivering on Trudeau’s promise to change the voting system. Maryam Monsef went from Afghani refugee to a seat at the cabinet table with only eight months membership in a party.
To manage an electoral reform agenda, you need a broad and deep understanding of how elections work.
The “mantra” of doing politics differently has convinced former ministers Jane Philpott and Wilson-Raybould to run as Independents. They both believe Canada should be governed like a giant citizen’s assembly with members voting their constituents’ wishes.
In a country as diverse as ours, that would be chaos.
There is something to be said for a Westminster system that has functioned for more than 400 years.
Successful Parliaments are not about doing politics differently.
Sheila Copps is a former Jean Chrétien-era cabinet minister and a former deputy prime minister. Follow her on Twitter at @Sheila_Copps.